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Subject: I have played some games, and have a LOT of questions rss

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Robert C

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I posted a thread under Puerto Rico with the same name. I am just kinda new to board games and trying to understand 'board game theory.'
So...Agricola. I have played about 8 games, only 3 with occupations and minor improvements, and have been thinking about some stuff.

First, I don't like the cards. I feel like the game does not need them, and, to an extent, they only take away from the game. One example is the Taster. With such a unique way to determine the first player (from the games I have played) this seems silly. They will always have first dibbs on family growth, or family growth without room. And there is NOTHING I can do about it. The other I had a problem with (and I forget the name) says players only lose points for begging cards and unused spaces. I don't get why that card is in there. Although the cards add a new twist to the game everytime it is played, I don't think the are needed, mostly because the game plays so well without them.

I terms of stragety.... The spaces that have two options, I (mostly)only take them when I can do both. I don't sow unless I can bake, and I don't add a room unless I can build a stable. Why waste an option?
I sometimes don't take three wood and hope it will become six - or the like. I know it is dangerous, but is it a good idea?

I like fences because you can breed. I like major improvements early, and cooking for most of my food. I don't like renovations because I feel like they don't give the most return. (Minimum of three moves to renovate could be spent better? And rarely does anyone have a stone house at the end of the game. Although this is where I think I am most wrong) I like stealing the starting player when I know family growth (even without) is going to come up.

That is about it. Tell me where I am wrong and right. Anything else anyone else would like to add would be awesome. Thanks a lot everyone, I really appreciate it.
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Mik Svellov
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TropicalCitrus wrote:
First, I don't like the cards. I feel like the game does not need them, and, to an extent, they only take away from the game.
You're in luck then. Page 8 describe how to play the game without the cards.

Quote:
I terms of stragety.... The spaces that have two options, I (mostly)only take them when I can do both. I don't sow unless I can bake, and I don't add a room unless I can build a stable. Why waste an option?
Indeed.

Quote:
I don't like renovations because I feel like they don't give the most return. (Minimum of three moves to renovate could be spent better?
Not if you have a large house. And not if you have the right cards (but of course, you don't play with them).

Quote:
And rarely does anyone have a stone house at the end of the game.
Really? I have never seen that happend.

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Although this is where I think I am most wrong) I like stealing the starting player when I know family growth (even without) is going to come up.
But will you be able to get it? If you don't have it already someone can certainly beat you to it.

But then again, not everybody feel it necessary to get an extra mouth to feed right away...

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Eric Miller
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We've played about 6 games now and are just starting to get into the play and the strategy. We find the cards quite useful. For example the Brewer is quite handy when it comes to feeding time. My other half also used the Medicant to offset some begging cards that she deliberately took instead of sacrificing some stock.

The six games we've played have all been quite different and some of the difference I put down to the cards.

I also think the cards increase the strategy of the game. When you add the cards quite often your resource needs change and as a result the whole game changes.

As one example: There is often the tendency for us to build a farm around livestock. In a recent game the occupation and improvement cards drew me to base my game around grain and vegetables, obtaining just enough livestock to ensure I didn't lose points. Plowed fields, 5 room stone house, 4 family members eventually won the game for me.

So for us the cards add to a great game.
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Cory Duplantis
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The cards add a TINY bit of randomness (if you draft them) which is just what Agricola needs. Without the cards, Agricola would just become another "solve-able" game, much like chess has. The reason this would be is because ALL of the information would be open. Nothing would be kept secret. The cards also give you added benefits which are very useful in game.

I am just curious, without anyone ever getting to a Stone house, what has you guys' maximum score been?
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Todd Redden
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The problem with the cards is that everyone is limited to the hand they're dealt at the beginning of the game. Because everything else is open and equal (except for turn order), the winner in our games is evidently the player who receives the best hand of cards at the beginning of the game (as long as the cards are played most efficiently.)

Everything else you mentioned also: knowing when each action is likely (or possible) to come out and preparing for it (having the right materials (REEDS!) to build your house and grow your family, having grain/vegetables by the time you plow and sow, having enough wood to build fences and stables big enough to contain the HUGE number of animals you'll grab right before the next player.) Being able to "bake bread" or to convert animals into meat is essential for Harvest.

As for the cards, I kind of like how they make each game so VERY DIFFERENT, and simply hope I get a reasonable set to make my game fun to play. I don't think I'd play Agricola as much if it weren't for the cards. I've heard it said in many different ways: victory isn't everything, most important is the goal of victory and the fun of the play.
 
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Todd Redden
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cajuninms wrote:
The cards add a TINY bit of randomness (if you draft them) which is just what Agricola needs. Without the cards, Agricola would just become another "solve-able" game, much like chess has. The reason this would be is because ALL of the information would be open. Nothing would be kept secret. The cards also give you added benefits which are very useful in game.

I am just curious, without anyone ever getting to a Stone house, what has you guys' maximum score been?

Chess is "solve-able"?? If you know the solution, please post!
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tmredden wrote:
Chess is "solve-able"??

Yes, obviously.

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If you know the solution, please post!

AFAIK the solution is not known.
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TropicalCitrus wrote:
I posted a thread under Puerto Rico with the same name. I am just kinda new to board games and trying to understand 'board game theory.' So...Agricola. I have played about 8 games, only 3 with occupations and minor improvements, and have been thinking about some stuff.


Ah, getting warmed up, I see. Good on ya!

Quote:
First, I don't like the cards. I feel like the game does not need them, and, to an extent, they only take away from the game.


The more you play using them, the more you'll understand their benefits. They don't really "take away from the game," but they can definitely serve as a distraction from good play. I'm pretty sure that's inherent in the design.

Quote:
One example is the Taster. With such a unique way to determine the first player (from the games I have played) this seems silly. They will always have first dibbs on family growth, or family growth without room. And there is NOTHING I can do about it.


Do a search; you'll find several threads dealing with this very Ock. Many people have banned it from play.

Quote:
The other I had a problem with (and I forget the name) says players only lose points for begging cards and unused spaces. I don't get why that card is in there.


That would be the Yeoman Farmer. He once won a game for me because an opponent had played the Constable, which gave me five bonus points for having no negatives at the end of the game.

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Although the cards add a new twist to the game everytime it is played, I don't think the are needed, mostly because the game plays so well without them


Then by all means, play without them! That's part of the beauty of the Agricola design.

Quote:
I terms of stragety.... The spaces that have two options, I (mostly)only take them when I can do both. I don't sow unless I can bake, and I don't add a room unless I can build a stable. Why waste an option? I sometimes don't take three wood and hope it will become six - or the like. I know it is dangerous, but is it a good idea?


Depends on the situation. Agricola is quite tactical in nature, and requires a good deal of flexibility in terms of planning and execution.

Quote:
I like fences because you can breed. I like major improvements early, and cooking for most of my food. I don't like renovations because I feel like they don't give the most return. (Minimum of three moves to renovate could be spent better? And rarely does anyone have a stone house at the end of the game. Although this is where I think I am most wrong) I like stealing the starting player when I know family growth (even without) is going to come up. That is about it. Tell me where I am wrong and right. Anything else anyone else would like to add would be awesome. Thanks a lot everyone, I really appreciate it.


Sounds to me like you're starting to learn the game. Excellent! You might want to meander through the various strategy and/or session reports posted here for more ideas about the various cards and how to play them. You certainly seem to be on the right track so far.

Happy gaming!
 
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Todd Redden
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pijll wrote:
tmredden wrote:
Chess is "solve-able"??

Yes, obviously.

Quote:
If you know the solution, please post!

AFAIK the solution is not known.

If you mean by "solveable" that a forced win can be detected in mid-game then perhaps its obvious. I would have prefered that you said more in defense of your position. Solveable usually means that a win can be forced with proper play from the beginning, and chess has not been "solved" yet. Any cards that make Agricola solveable in that sense (causing a forced win) should not be allowed into the game. Because the game is not scored until the end, no cards that prevent or impede the game from finishing for any player should be allowed in either.
 
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tmredden wrote:
Solveable usually means that a win can be forced with proper play from the beginning, and chess has not been "solved" yet.


Sure, but solved is not the same as solvable. So claiming it hasn't been solved has nothing to do with being solvable. So your protestations at it being solvable are disingenuous if you are using hasn't been solved as your basis for disagreement.

It's very clearly and provably solvable. Doing so practically on the other hand...

I could generate a very simple game right now that is easy to solve. If I don't bother to solve it, does that mean it's not solvable?
 
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keethrax wrote:
tmredden wrote:
Solveable usually means that a win can be forced with proper play from the beginning, and chess has not been "solved" yet.


Sure, but solved is not the same as solvable. So claiming it hasn't been solved has nothing to do with being solvable. So your protestations at it being solvable are disingenuous if you are using hasn't been solved as your basis for disagreement.

It's very clearly and provably solvable. Doing so practically on the other hand...

I could generate a very simple game right now that is easy to solve. If I don't bother to solve it, does that mean it's not solvable?

Going back to the original statement, I don't see where Agricola is necessarily solvable without the cards in play. Surely it would mean the game had open information, much like chess, but solvable? I'm trying to understand the definition of the term, and everybody presumes the meaning in game terms is known by all and keeps beating around the bush. The game is not turnwise-linear simply by the possibility of changing first player every turn, and the various necessary actions required throughout the game presents a wide array of tangents that skew my accepting Agricola as a solvable game. Somebody please define what you mean by "solvable."
 
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Matthew Watson
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You say that chess is very clearly and provably solvable. I dispute that.

It's not obvious that any software and hardware will ever be capable of actually solving chess, even with future advances in technology. (Unless we get some magic level technology.) It's the difference between theorietical solvability and practical solvability.

See some debate about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-move_advantage_in_chess#S...
 
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Tom Dickson
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tmredden wrote:
keethrax wrote:
tmredden wrote:
Solveable usually means that a win can be forced with proper play from the beginning, and chess has not been "solved" yet.


Sure, but solved is not the same as solvable. So claiming it hasn't been solved has nothing to do with being solvable. So your protestations at it being solvable are disingenuous if you are using hasn't been solved as your basis for disagreement.

It's very clearly and provably solvable. Doing so practically on the other hand...

I could generate a very simple game right now that is easy to solve. If I don't bother to solve it, does that mean it's not solvable?

Going back to the original statement, I don't see where Agricola is necessarily solvable without the cards in play. Surely it would mean the game had open information, much like chess, but solvable? I'm trying to understand the definition of the term, and everybody presumes the meaning in game terms is known by all and keeps beating around the bush. The game is not turn-wise-linear simply by the possibility of changing first player every turn, and the various necessary actions required throughout the game presents a wide array of tangents that skew my accepting Agricola as a solvable game. Somebody please define what you mean by "solvable."


In the case of the two player family game, there are 14 rounds and a specific number of action spaces. You could graph it out relatively easy - something like 268,435,456 combination (many which couldn't happen because the rounds aren't all available at the beginning, and many which are obviously not good, but also the ability of adding more family members, etc). Once you laid them all out, you could predict "perfect path" options and try to "solve" the game.

For example, you could almost do this with Puerto Rico if you removed the random order that the plantations come up in.

If you had a computer version of Agricola that allowed you to step backwards, you could try to "undo" a loss and change the options. Since there family game is "basically" determined (though the order in which the rounds appear would increase the complexity by an order of magnitude or so) you could find optimal play (similar to how in Puerto Rico it is considered optimal to start with a Settler).

Obviously once you add the billion cards into play it becomes much more involved.
 
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bombcar wrote:
tmredden wrote:
keethrax wrote:
tmredden wrote:
Solveable usually means that a win can be forced with proper play from the beginning, and chess has not been "solved" yet.


Sure, but solved is not the same as solvable. So claiming it hasn't been solved has nothing to do with being solvable. So your protestations at it being solvable are disingenuous if you are using hasn't been solved as your basis for disagreement.

It's very clearly and provably solvable. Doing so practically on the other hand...

I could generate a very simple game right now that is easy to solve. If I don't bother to solve it, does that mean it's not solvable?

Going back to the original statement, I don't see where Agricola is necessarily solvable without the cards in play. Surely it would mean the game had open information, much like chess, but solvable? I'm trying to understand the definition of the term, and everybody presumes the meaning in game terms is known by all and keeps beating around the bush. The game is not turn-wise-linear simply by the possibility of changing first player every turn, and the various necessary actions required throughout the game presents a wide array of tangents that skew my accepting Agricola as a solvable game. Somebody please define what you mean by "solvable."


In the case of the two player family game, there are 14 rounds and a specific number of action spaces. You could graph it out relatively easy - something like 268,435,456 combination (many which couldn't happen because the rounds aren't all available at the beginning, and many which are obviously not good, but also the ability of adding more family members, etc). Once you laid them all out, you could predict "perfect path" options and try to "solve" the game.

For example, you could almost do this with Puerto Rico if you removed the random order that the plantations come up in.

If you had a computer version of Agricola that allowed you to step backwards, you could try to "undo" a loss and change the options. Since there family game is "basically" determined (though the order in which the rounds appear would increase the complexity by an order of magnitude or so) you could find optimal play (similar to how in Puerto Rico it is considered optimal to start with a Settler).

Obviously once you add the billion cards into play it becomes much more involved.


The problem is this: Agricola (even the family version) is not a game with no randomness, and as such, can probably never be solved. For example:
Imagine it is Round 4. The 'optimal' moves might be different depending on whether the Round 5 card proves to be Family Growth, Renovate, or Stone. However, you can't make the 'optimal' moves in Round 4 because you don't know which new action card Round 5 will bring.
Much like the random plantation distribution in Puerto Rico, the semi-random set up of action cards will keep even the Family Game of Agricola from being solvable.
A game needs to have both no randomness (in play, though random set-up could be fine) and perfect information to be solveable. It probably also needs an assumption that all other players are playing in a self-interested fashion once you have more than two players. (Even if the first two conditions are met, being ganged up on probably ruins any 'solved' game of more than two players.)
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Tom Dickson
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Dr Lucky wrote:

Much like the random plantation distribution in Puerto Rico, the semi-random set up of action cards will keep even the Family Game of Agricola from being solvable.


I'm not sure that's 100% true - after all, you can consider the "random" aspect of the cards to be like the other player - and a "solution" to a game doesn't have to mean that there is a guaranteed win every time. It could be such that you could say "First player wins if the 3rd card is Sow and Bake Bread, otherwise the second player wins."

And even it there is an optimal move if the next card is Family Growth, there may be a move that is "best" no matter what the next card is, and that will allow you to solve it.
 
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Robert C

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Just real quick on the solve-able aspect: that doesn't really bother me. I mean to an extent Puerto Rico has been solved to a cerian extent, and I kinda like that. It just means whoever can think the most moves ahead and most actually predict what his opponents will do will win. Maybe this type of game doesn't make for the funnest game night, especially when someone is way ahead in terms of stragety. But when everyone is playing at a high level, it becomes much of a mind game, which I like.
 
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Robert C

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Keep in mind that we haven't really played with the cards. The highest scores have been 31 (4 clay room) 29 (all wood) 29 (3 clay) 31 (3 clay) and 32 (3 clay). I guess I don't really know if those are good scores. But in the 32 game I scored the following points in the order on the sheet: 3,4,4,3,2,2,1,-4,1,3,-,9,3.
The one time I had 3 stone I scores 28.
Out of curiousity, what is a good score without cards?

And how do I reply so it is in the blue boxes?
 
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Tom Dickson
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Our first game with cards, I hit 23 and the winning score was 36. Your scores look quite decent. We've hit lows of 11 or so. whistle
 
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Dr Lucky wrote:

The problem is this: Agricola (even the family version) is not a game with no randomness, and as such, can probably never be solved. For example:
Imagine it is Round 4. The 'optimal' moves might be different depending on whether the Round 5 card proves to be Family Growth, Renovate, or Stone. However, you can't make the 'optimal' moves in Round 4 because you don't know which new action card Round 5 will bring.
Much like the random plantation distribution in Puerto Rico, the semi-random set up of action cards will keep even the Family Game of Agricola from being solvable.
A game needs to have both no randomness (in play, though random set-up could be fine) and perfect information to be solveable. It probably also needs an assumption that all other players are playing in a self-interested fashion once you have more than two players. (Even if the first two conditions are met, being ganged up on probably ruins any 'solved' game of more than two players.)

Not to mention the fact that each player can be maximizing their chances using completely different strategies. And, if two players are going for the same strategy on the same turn, one will be confounded by the first player interrupting their plan. If this were a two player zero sum game, then I suppose it would be "solvable". I just didn't understand what the previous posters were implying.
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HisDivineShadow wrote:
You say that chess is very clearly and provably solvable. I dispute that.

It's not obvious that any software and hardware will ever be capable of actually solving chess, even with future advances in technology. (Unless we get some magic level technology.) It's the difference between theorietical solvability and practical solvability.

See some debate about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-move_advantage_in_chess#S...


I'm not sure if you're replying to me, but since you chose to use the words "clearly solvable" I'll assume it was me.

I already covered the issues you bring up, just not in as much depth. The provably (which you left off and just kept the clearly) goes to theoretically. And I further addressed the difference between that and practicality.

So dispute all you want, but you're not really disputing anything, you're just elaborating.
 
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tmredden wrote:

Going back to the original statement, I don't see where Agricola is necessarily solvable without the cards in play. Surely it would mean the game had open information, much like chess, but solvable? I'm trying to understand the definition of the term, and everybody presumes the meaning in game terms is known by all and keeps beating around the bush. The game is not turnwise-linear simply by the possibility of changing first player every turn, and the various necessary actions required throughout the game presents a wide array of tangents that skew my accepting Agricola as a solvable game. Somebody please define what you mean by "solvable."


My post was only in reference to you using has not ben solved to bolster your solvability argument. I made not claims as the the solvability or not of Agricola.

Further, my definition aligns with yours:

Quote:
Solveable usually means that a win can be forced with proper play from the beginning, and chess has not been "solved" yet


Modified to include the possibility that a draw is the solution.

A definition which chess is provably in.


Now that we're in agreement on our definition (I'm assuming you won't dispute my addendum) you yourself apparently don't really use that definition.

Quote:
Chess is "solve-able"?? If you know the solution, please post!


And to top it all off you take others to task for beating fuzzy in their definitions.

If you're going to do that, you ought to be more solid in your own use.

Thing is, I agree with what you're saying, but you're doing exactly what you are accusing others of doing in your attempts to support it.
 
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TropicalCitrus wrote:

Out of curiousity, what is a good score without cards?


Without cards, I find winning scores tend to be around 35, though haven't played that much without cards.

With cards, it depends on how many players you've got. 2 players - you can often get 40 pts each - certainly over 30. With more players, I find most scores end up 25-35 pts, with the winning score normally being low forties, though can be mid thirties and 50 pts plus is reasonably possible (see my last session report). 60 pts is alo possible but pretty rare - you can find some reviews with scores that high I think.

Generally, I aim for 35 pts and am happy if I make it there, regardless of what position I finish in, but i have played it quite a few times now.
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WelshGandalf wrote:
TropicalCitrus wrote:

Out of curiousity, what is a good score without cards?


Without cards, I find winning scores tend to be around 35, though haven't played that much without cards.

With cards, it depends on how many players you've got. 2 players - you can often get 40 pts each - certainly over 30. With more players, I find most scores end up 25-35 pts, with the winning score normally being low forties, though can be mid thirties and 50 pts plus is reasonably possible (see my last session report). 60 pts is alo possible but pretty rare - you can find some reviews with scores that high I think.

Generally, I aim for 35 pts and am happy if I make it there, regardless of what position I finish in, but i have played it quite a few times now.


With three or four playing, my observation is that winning scores tend to be high-30s to mid-40s, with scores in the 50s occuring more frequently with experienced players (and especially when playing inexperienced or indifferent ones). Cracking 60 is the ne plus ultra in Agricola scoring (excluding solo games), imnsho; I've only seen it done once, and that was with the scoring boost of the "Through the Seasons" variant.
 
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Chad Valentine
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First, could we move the solvable riddle to another post. It has nothing to do with the OP.

Second, the perfect hand does not guarantee a win. A good hand can always be derailed, especially if the strength of the hand is in getting the cards out early. Your opponents may be constantly camped on starting player or 1 occupation. Typically, if you are playing a lot of cards, you're behind on resource gathering too. You also begin to telegraph your strategy as your cards come out.

Third, I feel that it is important to remember why Agricola is such a brilliantly designed game. The beauty of the game is not in figuring out the strategy that can win almost every time, it's in figuring out how to out play the current opponents on the board.

What I mean by this, is that you may find that growing grain and baking bread looks like the best way to win, until 3 of the 4 players are doing the same strategy. Now the rancher (animal cook) is racking up points because there's no competition. Or maybe the winner appears to be the person who grows their family first...until everyone races to be the first to grow their family. Then you'll see people grabbing wood and reed without letting it build up (wasting actions). Or that 3rd family member is wasted because it's just gathering food to feed itself.

Every game brings something random or something new (with or without cards) simply because you have human opponents. You really want to both maximize your number of actions in a game and avoid competition for resources or within basic strategies. Underneath, Agricola can be seen as a commodities game. Supply and demand.

Regarding your question about playing with or without the cards, the cards really can distract newer or casual players from what's going on infront of them and make the game less enjoyable. If you're having fun, play without them. You'll probably find that with a consistant gaming group, you'll bring the cards back into the mix once everyone is feeling more seasoned and looking for a greater challenge. But until then, enjoy the family version.

Last point I'd like to make, upgrading your house is worth the actions. For example, going from a 4 room wood to 4 room stone house is worth 8 points, without cards. You'll need 4 clay, 2 reed, 4 stone, and 2 renovations. That's a minimum of 5 actions, but on average 7 actions due to the fact that stone and clay don't often get to 4. 7 actions for 8 points is already good, and the renovates come with an optional second good action as well. If you happen to be the one left standing with a clay house, the well is a nice consolation prize at 4 points. I've never played a game where the winner had a wood house.
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Geoff Burkman
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Quote:
The beauty of the game is not in figuring out the strategy that can win almost every time, it's in figuring out how to out play the current opponents on the board.


Well said. Truth is: there is no strategy that can win almost every time except the strategy of playing better than your opponent(s). Always remember, you don't have to have the best cards, and you don't have to maximize your hand's potential. All you have to do is play better than everyone else.
 
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